None of the Ravens’ three roster additions following their rookie minicamp over the weekend are strangers to the NFL.
Tight end Phillip Supernaw, 24, spent part of the 2012 season on the Houston Texans’ practice squad and played in one game for the Texans last season. Fullback Shaun Chapas, 26, played in six career games for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys during the 2011 and 2012 campaigns. And offensive guard Will Rackley, 25, played three seasons for the Jaguars, starting 25 games.
With Dennis Pitta, Owen Daniels and third-round pick Crockett Gillmore ahead of him on the depth chart, Supernaw has an uphill battle to make the roster. Chapas is a more traditional fullback than Kyle Juszczyk, but it’s unclear if the Ravens will be willing to keep two players at a position that’s being largely phased out in the league. As for Rackley, he’s clearly the most interesting name and his signing spurs a host of questions.
Does his addition make it more plausible to move current starting left guard Kelechi Osemele over to right tackle? The Ravens did not get a replacement for Michael Oher in the draft, leaving unproven Rick Wagner and major disappointment Jah Reid as the top candidates to start at right tackle. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome mentioned Osemele as an option at right tackle after the draft, even though team officials have been consistent to this point in saying that they’d prefer keeping Osemele at guard.
What do the Ravens see in Rackley that the Jaguars, who released and replaced him in March, didn’t? The former third-round pick out of Lehigh had his moments and was especially effective while blocking Haloti Ngata during the Ravens-Jaguars’ "Monday Night Football" matchup in 2011. But he missed the entire 2012 season with an ankle injury and he was sidelined for five games last year with a head injury. Even when he’s been healthy, he’s mostly struggled and was one of the worst-graded offensive guards in the NFL in both 2011 and 2013, according to Pro Football Focus.
Now that the Ravens have another veteran interior offensive lineman, does that mean that some of the holdovers like Reid, A.Q. Shipley and Gino Gradkowski are in danger of not making the team? The Ravens currently have five centers on their roster and that doesn’t include Rackley who could also play there in a pinch. They also just used a fifth-round pick on Penn State guard John Urschel, so they are getting pretty crowded along the interior of the offensive line.
Ravens’ officials haven’t commented on the recent roster moves and they probably won’t with no media availability scheduled until the organized team activities late next week. However, they are obviously not going to commit to anything this early in the offseason. Head coach John Harbaugh is fond of saying that the Ravens will play the best five offensive linemen, and I’m sure this situation is no different.
The reality is signing Rackley is a no-risk move. I’m sure he’s getting the veteran minimum or close to that. If he’ struggling, you cut him in training camp. If he looks like he’s making some strides under Juan Castillo’s tutelage, you keep him around and at the very least, you have an experienced backup for Marshal Yanda and Osemele. And if he proves through the various minicamps and the early stages of training camp that he’s deserving of a chance to start, then the Ravens have the flexibility to move Osemele out to right tackle.
It’s all up to Rackley though, whether he becomes a serviceable contributor or one of many training camp roster cuts.